Looking back on 2017

Looking back now, the 2017 Bigscapacleanup week seems an eon away but the picture sums up the week in many ways.

Here is a small crab who will go back in the water to grow some more.

Likewise, the week saw the teams consolidate their good work and grow the range of skills that divers can bring to the clean up. The deeper battleships were tackled using mixed gasses whilst a second boat was packed with an enthusiastic team of trainees learning how to recover gear safely.

We all consolidated the partnerships and collaborations needed to ensure the project is finely targeted on actions that have a positive affect within the community as a whole.

But lastly, we gathered data to power the answers to the questions we need to answer.

However for me, the biggest change was the switch to record video rather than stills. The thinking is longer and more contemplative with moving images and this seems somehow more fitting with how the project as a whole has evolved.

I hope you will agree that, in time, the results will be worth the wait

Movings sideways, welcome BSAC..

Somewhere along the way, I think we kinda became custodians of these wrecks. They form an important part of our cultural heritage and, as divers, we are privileged to dive and enjoy them. The more they are explored, the more they reveal about a life lived back in time and so in turn create a sense that we can tell their story by relating our own experiences. The wrecks too serve as a microcosm of our modern world as a whole: if we can address those problems we face in the wider lives on this small scale, maybe we become part of the solution. Cleaning up litter, fishing gear, plastics, etc may be just a drop in the ocean but it all helps. An army starts with a footstep and the Gf team are going great guns in that direction.

To document the wreck itself forms another part of involving the community. The BigScapaCleanUp has worked hard to welcome our BSAC friends to the fold and help them adopt the Coln. An advance team laid the foundations at the end of last season and helped Steve draw the new maps. Expanding on these skills, the teams started to apply some Photogrammetry to the wrecks. As time goes by, these early beginings will feed into the Scapa 100 initiative. Exciting times lie ahead..

Growing in capacity..

As the project gathers legs, so more modular components can be identified and brought into focus by small teams all bringing thought to specific areas but handing their knowledge to the next team.

So the Ghostfishing guys benefited from reporting on the maps which was composed of a software back end layered over technical level on a graphical map.

The Ghostfishing team have made great strides in their removal operation.

Another team have come behind to expand the number of maps and grow the techniques needed to create them online.

The Heriot Watt guys have taken the data and handed the numbers on to a study that will try and makes sense of the growing data base that will underpin future efforts.

The Scapa 100 initiative has been embraced and will help shape the future roadmap. Many of the ideals central to the BigScapaCleanUp carry across both cultural and environmental concerns and have a common ground.

Safety, whilst always at the top of the list, is also being made a direct component of the BigScapaCleanUp. Less rope means less hazard: can we quantify this? A study with the local hyperbaric unit is working to quantify the issues.

But even as the project grows, the central tenet that becomes ever more evident is that the driving force comes from the community. The effort and good will from volunteers working in their holiday time has given the project a substance far beyond what we ever anticipated in the early beginnings. So this post ends with a big thank you to all those who have lent a hand and put a shoulder to the burden to help us move everything forward. Thank you loads and loads!!

New maps..

At the end of the last BigScapaCleanUp week there were a couple of themes that bubbled to the surface.

Wrecks that were cleaned the previous year were revisited and generally found to have remained clean. Certainly, it didn’t take more than a single dive for the team to sweep any debris that had accumulated since the clean up into touch. This is quite gratifying and means that the BigScapaCleanUp maps can now be used as a means to monitor the wrecks rather than their prime role which was originally intended to be a location tool. Surprising this aspect was not fully realised at the conception of the project but, with a little nimble footwork, we are embracing the new idea. However it does show the importance of maintaning the wrecks maps and keeping things up to date.

The battleships present a greater challenge due to their greater depth so that the survey and the removal phases will probably become harder to do at once. The pre-reporting and triage will become more important than ever so we have invested a lot of time into making the maps as accurate (certainly in the visual sense) as possible. The underlying mechanics of drawing the maps was simplified and made easier to edit so that can react quicker to updates. Underwater time was invested into creating dive teams with capacity to dive the wrecks and convey their experience to an graphic designer who in turn brings the jumble of steel to life through strong visual cues in the graphics.

Moving swiftly on..

Well the eager beavers have been hard at work chipping away at the coalface over the winter and created a fresh new swathe of thingsnstuff to keep the website moving forward.

Plans are well under way to take the Ghostfishing week forward and tackle the battleships in a new round of cleaning. The battleships are slightly deeper so the team will up their game and put in place the ways and means to tackle this greater challenge. Hopefully the challenges raised will test the capabilities of the BigScapaCleanUp software to the full and give the troops some meaty logistics to get thier teeth around. The GF troops have really consolidated their operation over the last year: Rich Walker has run with the Uk arm of Ghostfishing and started to embrace other projects around the coast.I think the whole team are really proud of how far they have come and the results achieved to date so a big congratulations all round!

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Cöln map

On the back of the last week collecting rubbish in the Flow, we have earmarked a programme to map the rest of the wrecks to gather data for a clear up week in 2017. The Coln is the first of the sites to get a brand new sparkly map, now live and waiting:

Coln map
The new Cöln map is now ready..

Get reporting folks..